It’s Friday, and that means another edition of Northern Reads! I’m chuffed to have fellow historical fiction and saga author Judith Barrow on the blog today with her fantastic Haworth family trilogy, featuring one book set in Lancashire.
Welcome, Judith! Tell us more about the Haworth Family Trilogy.
The three books are historical family sagas, often described as gritty. Although they are a trilogy set around the same family, each book also stands alone. The first of the trilogy is Pattern of Shadows, set in Lancashire between 1944 and 1945. The story was inspired by Glen Mill, a disused cotton mill in Lancashire, which was the first German POW camp. Glen Mill brought back a personal memory of my childhood. My mother was a winder in a similar mill. I would often go to wait for her to finish work on my way home from school. I remember: the muffled boom of noise as I walked across the yard and the sudden clatter of so many different machines as I stepped through a small door cut into a great wooden gate; the women singing and shouting above the noise, of them whistling for more bobbins; the colours of the cotton and cloth. Above all I remember the smell: of oil, grease – and in the storage area – the lovely smell of the new material stored in bales. And the sound of the siren, announcing the end of the shift.
When I thought of Glen Mill I wondered what kind of signal would have been used to separate parts of the day for all those men imprisoned there. I realised how different their days must have been from my memories of a mill. There would be no machinery, only vehicles coming and going; the only voices would be those of men, with a language and dialect so different. I imagined the subdued anger and resignation. There would be no riot of colour, just an overall drabness. And the tang of oil, grease, cotton fibres would be replaced by the reek of ‘living’ smells.
And I knew I wanted to write about that. But I also wanted there to be hope somewhere. I wanted to imagine that something good could have come out of the situation the men were in.
I changed the name of the prisoner of war camp to Granville, set in the fictional town of Ashford. The protagonist is Mary Howarth, a nurse in a hospital attached to the camp who holds her dysfunctional family together.
And tell us more about the series. Where does it go from there?
Pattern of Shadows: Mary is a nurse at a Lancashire prison camp for the housing and treatment of German POWs. Life at work is difficult but fulfilling, life at home a constant round of arguments, until Frank Shuttleworth, a guard at the camp turns up. Mary agrees to walk out with him but he becomes a jealous and dangerous boyfriend when one of the POWs, Peter Schormann a doctor, is allocated to treat the injured and ill prisoners in the hospital, and he and Mary become friends.
Changing Patterns is the sequel to Pattern of Shadows and begins in May 1950 when Britain is struggling with the hardships of rationing and the aftermath of the Second World War. In times of war the relationship between Mary Howarth and Peter Schormann was called fraternization. And fraternization was a dangerous and serious offence. After the war, it is looked on by many as equally unacceptable, especially by Mary’s troubled and fractious family. The war is over, but for Mary Howarth the danger isn’t; she is living in Wales with Peter, a German ex-POW and is a Matron of a small hospital. She believes her job will be jeopardised if they find out about Peter. Her best friend Jean is doing all she can to get Mary to leave Peter and return to Lancashire. Mary is sure this will never happen, but she has no idea of the secret Peter is keeping from her. And then one day, something happens that changes everything….
Blurb for Changing Patterns:
Peter Schormann, an ex-German POW, has left his home country to be with Mary Howarth. Reunited they plan to marry. But there are obstacles in their way: the controversy of Mary and Peter’s relationship, the condemnation of her family and the memory of Frank Shuttleworth, ex-boyfriend of Mary’s. Even worse, Peter holds a dangerous secret that could destroy them. When tragedy strikes, Mary hopes it will unite her family, but it is only when a child disappears that they pull together to save one of their own from a common enemy
Living in the Shadows is the last of the trilogy, and is set in 1969, a time of Mods and Rockers, the Beatles, flower power and free love. Although Mary is still the protagonist, this is the story of the next generation of the Howarth and Schormann families, forced to deal with the consequences of the past actions of their parents. Granville, the prisoner of war camp, is the backdrop of all three books even as it gradually falls into disrepair. In this last book it becomes the centre of an inevitable tragedy
Blurb for Living in the Shadows:
Mary Schormann is living quietly in Wales with her husband, Peter, and her teenage twins, Richard and Victoria. Her niece, Linda Booth, is a nurse – following in Mary’s footsteps – and works in the maternity ward of her local hospital in Lancashire. At the end of a long night shift, a bullying new father visits the maternity ward and brings back Linda’s darkest nightmares, her terror of being locked in. Who is this man, and why does he scare her so? There are secrets dating back to the war that still haunt the family, and finding out what lies at their root might be the only way Linda can escape their murderous consequences.
That’s right up my alley! Where can we get them them?
Purchase Judith’s books here:
Judith Barrow, originally from Oldham has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years but returns often to Lancashire. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University.
She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.
Her last book, A Hundred Tiny Threads, is the prequel to the trilogy and is the story of Mary Howarth’s mother, Winifred, and father, Bill. Set between 1910 & 1924 it is a the time of the Suffragettes, WW1, the influenza epidemic and the infamous Black and Tans, sent to Ireland to quell the rebellion and fight for freedom from the UK. It is inevitable that what forms the lives, personalities and characters of Winifred and Bill eventually affects the lives of their children, Tom, Mary, Patrick and Ellen. And so the Pattern trilogy begins.
Judith’s books are published by Honno, a small independent women’s press. Her next book is due to be published in March 2020 and is entitled The Memory.
I have A Hundred Tiny Threads! It’s a fabulous book! Where can we find you on social media and the web?
Social media for Judith:
Reviewing Website : https://judithbarrow.blogspot.com/
Thanks so much for stopping by, Judith!
Come back next week as we travel to Manchester with our next author! Thanks so much for reading!